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Metropolis (A Bernie Gunther Novel) Hardcover – April 9, 2019
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One of Publishers Weekly's Top 10 Mysteries & Thrillers of Spring 2019
“Metropolis is a consummately told tale with lashings of vice and horror that works either as a gripping stand-alone in the Chandler mode or as the keystone of a 14-book arch with a deeper, more troubling flavor, and it's a perfect goodbye—and first hello—to its hero. In Metropolis, Bernie Gunther has, at last, come home.”—The Washington Post
“Kerr's 14th novel in this series proves to be Gunther's origin story, which makes it feel imperative as well as poignant...Arresting...Vivid.”—The New York Times Book Review
“[A] worthy auf Wiedersehen...The author's singular gifts for conveying the verbal, physical and moral textures of this vanished world are undiminished in Metropolis. The book offers similies worthy of Raymond Chandler.”—Wall Street Journal
“Fascinating, brilliantly researched...Just like Bernie, [Metropolis is] tough, funny, smart and pointed...An excellent introduction for newcomers and a fitting coda for longtime fans...Kerr's powerful series seems more vital than ever, with anti-Semitism, authoritarianism and white nationalism all on the rise. With a final bow from his flawed if improbably endearing hero, Kerr again reminds us: Never forget.”—Newsday
"Philip Kerr's magnificent Bernie Gunther novels are Third Reich-set noirish thrillers featuring a wisecracking, world-weary detective....This gripping, if bittersweet, posthumous outing is a perfect swan song for fans of the series and an ideal entry point for newcomers."—Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Gunther is the perfect world-weary investigator for the glittering, doomed demi-monde of Weimar Berlin...Wonderfully plotted, with elegant prose, witty dialogue, homages to German Expressionism and a strong emotional charge, this is a bittersweet ending to a superb series.”—The Guardian (UK)
“Not only is Kerr’s eye for detail and character unparalleled; he balances mystery and history perfectly, like a blade in a skilled knife-fighter’s hand. . . If you’re looking for a historical thriller that’s deft with its history and its thrills, you couldn’t do better.”—Mystery Tribune
“Metropolis is Kerr’s and Bernie’s swan song—a brilliant Berlin opera of Goethe proportion with an intricate and riveting plot. And just like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, Philip Kerr’s Metropolis is a masterpiece.”—New York Journal of Books
“Kerr displays again his special talent for reflecting individual depravities against the broad canvas of a society collapsing upon itself. It's fascinating to see a younger Bernie here, with the makings of the melancholic wiseass and world-class cynic he will soon become, but still just a tad vulnerable (and still learning to hold his liquor). The Bernie Gunther series is one of the great triumps of modern noir, and it will be sorely missed.”—Booklist (starred review)
“This book is plenty timely. But completed shortly before the author's death, it is also one of Kerr's most congenial, beautifully controlled, and entertaining works. The banter is priceless. Going against the grain—as usual—by writing an origin novel as his swan song, Kerr leaves his fans happy.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Gripping...Kerr does a fine job of immersing the reader in the seamy side of Weimar Germany... Fans will be sorry to see the last of the honest, wisecracking Bernie.”—Publishers Weekly
“Kerr saved some of his best work for last… Metropolis shows once again why Philip Kerr was one of the most talented novelists of his generation, and his final novel is one his fans won’t soon forget.”—The Real Book Spy
“Berlin during the time of the Third Reich’s reign is a perfect location to spotlight desperation, suspense, and death. Philip Kerr mastered both his plots and his characters, making this one thriller you do not want to miss.”—Suspense Magazine
About the Author
- Publisher : G.P. Putnam's Sons; Illustrated edition (April 9, 2019)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0735218897
- ISBN-13 : 978-0735218895
- Item Weight : 1.35 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.21 x 1.21 x 9.3 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #405,234 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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Bernie Gunther was a German soldier on the Eastern Front/a hotel concierge/a "bull" cop at the Alex in Berlin/and an in-house cop at Berlin's Adlon Hotel. Those were the ones I can remember right now; Philip Kerr gave his character many professions in many places at many times. (The nice thing about the Bernie Gunther series is that the new reader can dive in at any point in the series and get caught up in Bernie's life quite easily. Since Kerr didn't write the books in any chronological order, there's no need to read them in order, though I do think the new reader should read the three first books in order because they really do shape the character.) Anyway, "Metropolis" is a good-bye of sorts to both Philip Kerr and his character.
Set in late 1920's Berlin, the city is teetering on the brink of collapse. The Weimar Republic is not providing good governance, and maybe that's because the city is impossible to govern. Early in the book, Kerr compares 1929 Berlin to the biblical city of Babylon, where evidently, "anything goes." I think most people reading this review are familiar with Berlin from Kerr's previous books, and also from other fictional portrayals like "Cabaret", though that book by Isherwood took place a few years later.
Kerr begins his book by starting with Bernie in his first days as a new member of the Alex's Murder Squad. He begins by investigating a series of prostitute murders where the victims are scalped. The murderer leaves few clues and the city's residents become obsessed with the idea of a phantom stalking the populace. The murderer has been nicknamed "Winnitou" after the main character in Karl May's series of books set in the United States' Old West. The book follows Bernie as he works the case and finds his way around Berlin.
Philip Kerr was a meticulous writer. His characters are finely drawn and he provides both social and historical contexts for his Bernie Gunther series. Bernie, who fictionally died in the mid-1950's, and his creator, who died last year, are leaving the readers who followed his adventures a bit bereft. But all things - and book series - must come to an end.
This is the last in an amazing series of 14 novels. And I'm a purist. There are two–and just two–titans of detective fiction in American literature: Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Everyone else is puttering around at ankle-level to these two. This is not my opinion, it's a scientific fact. Look it up!
Chandler chronicled and created a certain vision of Los Angeles that, I think, will live until we run of out electricity, potable water and Hot Pockets. The same can be said of Kerr's Berlin.
Each novel is exactingly researched and the cast of notable Germans who parade through these 14 books is long and historically accurate. I loved reading about Goebbels and hearing him referred to as "Joey the Crip." Priceless.
I think Kerr's books are equal to Chandler's work and, repetitiously, I can offer no higher praise. Buy every one and read them NOW!
Sure, you could go to your grave never reading the Bernie Gunther novels, but where's the fun in that?
Top reviews from other countries
Many thanks Mr Kerr for leaving us with Bernie at the start. We will miss both him and especially you, his narrator.
The world is better place for your being here and a sadder place now you've left us.
My first Mr Kerr book was a long time ago when I was going through a science fiction period (as was Mr Kerr) and was called Gridiron. It was very good and I thought I must dig out some more of his work and 20 years later in a second hand book shop in London I did with Field Grey. If you are going to start Bernie books the absolute worst to start with is Field Grey; it took me the best part of six months to read and dense would be an understatement. But then I found Prague Spring and was hooked.
Mr Kerr seems to write his books in two styles; the first is the first person, action as it happens, detective novel that was personified in the Berlin Noir trilogy and Prague Spring and also Metropolis his final novel. These all have something of a traditional story ark (though perhaps not a traditional villain). Then you have the second lot, again first person noir, which have Bernie post war but jumping backwards and forwards as someone or something will bring a recollection of a story from his past. While not as straightforward as his other works these can be very pleasing in their own right though truth be told there are probably more disappointing books in this section (Field Grey and his penultimate Bernie novel Greeks Bearing Gifts are probably for the enthusiast) than the first. I mentioned dense at the start and that is the other issue with some of the books; we know Mr Kerr does his research but in some of the books it seemed he was shoehorning information because he had it and that was doing little to add to the plot or drive the action along. But if you are an enthusiast for the era, the little nuggets he dug up and used could be as interesting as the story.
At the end of Greeks, Mr Kerr seemed to be teeing Bernie up to work with Mossad in some way. My, that would have been a book worth reading. Instead we go back to Bernie’s first murder case in Berlin. Some reviews complain that Bernie appears fully formed in this novel as if this is surprising. In Bernie world by the time Metropolis starts he must be about 33, so he isn’t a fresh faced individual by any means and the two major life changing events (world war one and the death of his first wife) are a good decade in the past so to my mind, a fully formed Bernie makes complete sense. In fact Bernie did not have long left in the Berlin Police as he left in 1933 (or 1934 if you believe Field Grey).
Is the book worth reading – it most certainly is and again, unlike other reviewers I think it isn’t a bad place to start in Bernie’s world. It is a solid Bernie Gunther rather than an exceptional one; but Mr Kerr was an important writer and a “solid” Kerr is probably far better than a good book by lots of other writers. Yes, the end does seem a bit rushed and there are a couple of sections which don’t scan like Mr Kerr’s writing so perhaps the editor was more than usually present in this book. Considering that Mr Kerr was in the terminal phase of an aggressive cancer while writing this neither of the above is particularly surprising.
I would really have liked to meet Mr Kerr; I had lots of questions (not least is Bernie based on Georg Heuser) which will never be answered. While it’s sad for his fans it must be absolutely devastating to his family that this clever, articulate, funny and unique individual that was Philip Kerr has moved to Elysian Fields. His death has robbed us of a wonderful story teller but them an equally wonderful husband and father and in the end that is far more important than anything else.
It's not the best in the series but it's going to be essential reading for those of you who read the previous 13 books.
It does feel a little bit like Kerr changed his mind, or his editors did, halfway through as the characters who are potentially going to be central to the plot, Lang & Von Harbou, never get involved.
If you've not read the others in the series don't start here, seek out March Violets and enjoy a fantsatic body of work.
In all the books, there's usually been a good plot, lots of accurate historical detail but oh so much blather. As the series went on, I kept buying them but increasingly skipped chunks of wholly implausible dialogue. So, if you're a Bernie Gunther fan do buy Kerr's last fling, with this caveat, but if you're new to the series, start with March Violets.